Hiding Self-Harm Scars in Swimsuit Season

March 3, 2022 Kim Berkley

Whether you're dreading a spring break beach trip or a long, hot summer full of pool party potential, swimsuit season can be daunting for anyone with scars, but especially those of us whose scars were self-inflicted. Let's talk about how to hide self-harm scars in swimsuit season—and whether you really need to.

How to Hide Self-harm Scars in a Swimsuit

Hiding self-harm scars in a swimsuit can seem like an impossible task, but don't worry, you don't have to swear off swimming forever if you don't want to. Depending on where your scars are and how visible they are, you may have several options for covering up.

If your scars are subtle or in a place where they're not immediately noticeable, you may be able to simply wear a cover-up outfit over your swimsuit—when you're ready to hit the waves, rip it off like a bandage and run for the water. Everyone will be too busy diving in with you to notice. When you're ready to dry off, make a beeline for your towel and put your cover-up back on immediately after. (This method works best if the company you're in is aware of your scars, and it's just that you don't want to draw attention to them.)

Similarly, you can choose more modest clothes to wear in the water, such as a rash guard shirt, a onesie-style swimsuit, longer swim trunks, or even a dress-style suit. If anyone asks, you can always (honestly) say that the style you've chosen will help you protect your skin from sun damage.

Waterproof jewelry or other accessories can also help. For example, bracelets, armbands, or a few scrunchies can help hide scars on your arms without typically raising too many eyebrows.

Waterproof makeup is an option, too, although how effective this will be, depends on a few things. First, if your scars are raised or puffy, makeup won't hide that—it will only blend the color in with the surrounding skin. Second, if you're planning to be athletic—lots of swimming, volleyball, or even just rough-housing—friction can wear even the best makeup off if you're not careful. Third, not all waterproof makeup is actually all that waterproof. Take it from someone who's gotten raccoon eyes from cheap waterproof mascara more than once—if you want waterproof makeup you can count on, make sure to do your research by reading reviews and trying it out on your own before wearing it to an event.

One more thing to keep in mind is sunscreen. While most sunscreen won't be very effective at hiding your self-harm scars, it is a vital tool for helping your scars heal, which will make them less and less noticeable as time goes by.

Do You Need to Hide Your Self-Harm Scars in Swimsuit Season?

Before you go out and buy a new suit or a fresh makeup palette, I want you to take a moment to ask yourself: do you really need to hide your self-harm scars this swimsuit season?

In some cases, the answer will be yes. You might be around people who don't know and may not understand your history of self-harm. Maybe you're hoping to go swimming during a fancy company retreat, or you'll draw unwanted attention if you don't get in the pool at the next family reunion. It's okay if you need to cover up; there's nothing wrong with protecting your privacy.

However, if you're going to be around people you love and trust—and especially if those people know about your scars already and are accepting of them—it's worth considering whether you need to hide after all. If you don't want to talk about your scars, it's perfectly acceptable to tell someone, so if they bring it up—and keep in mind that they might not bring it up at all.

If the reason you're hiding your scars is that you're ashamed of them or because they make you feel ugly, this might be the perfect opportunity to push back against those feelings by wearing and doing what you want to despite them. You can always bring a backup swimsuit or makeup with you in case the situation becomes too overwhelming; you don't have to put your scars on display the whole time if that's too much for you.

And of course, it's also important to consider whether this event is worth attending. If it's an important personal or professional event, or if it's a gathering you'd be looking forward to if it weren't for your scars, you should make the effort to go. But if it's not an event you have any interest in, if the people aren't people you want to spend time with, or if you're physically or emotionally not up to attending at this time, know that it is okay to decline the invitation. Setting healthy boundaries is a vital element of self-care and recovery.

Do you have any suggestions for covering self-harm scars while wearing a swimsuit that I didn't cover here? Feel free to share your tips, tricks, or other thoughts in the comments.

APA Reference
Kim Berkley (2022, March 3). Hiding Self-Harm Scars in Swimsuit Season, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 19 from

Author: Kim Berkley

Find Kim on Instagram, Facebook and her blog.

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